Saturday, October 16, 2004

MAN ON FIRE

A bomb up the arse of human sensitivity

Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning, Marc Anthony, Christopher Walken

Tagline: (The posters are too classy for taglines so either of these lines from the film will suffice)
Revenge is a meal best served cold
Death is his art, and he is about to create his masterpiece

Okay, let’s start with the positive. There is genuine chemistry between the big, silly, stubborn façade of Denzel’s Creasy and the admirably restrained Dakota Fanning’s insightful, inquisitive little girl. Not exactly Leon, but certainly innocent and careful enough to make what follows look a shambles. It’s as if Tony Scott’s evil twin took over the project and said “You know what? Fuck kids”, preferring instead a terrorist killing spree (he really gets Middle Eastern on their asses) that would make Mel Gibson queasy. Even meathead boomfest The Punisher (either of them) has a more balanced, astute approach to family turmoil. All action scenes are unfulfilling, wobbling about in frustrating slo-motion under a horrible puke-green hue, a mix of Training Day’s PCP scene and the title sequence to The Sopranos.
The soundtrack is appropriately baffling. Acoustic flamenco collides with fruity party rave, the Spanish version of ‘Hey Mickey!’ and a giant mashup of every Nine Inch Nails song with a vaguely relevant title. The odd decision to play the one of these songs (a massively dumb, ultra-crunchy, industrial-grade meat pie of a thing) for about fifteen minutes throughout the film especially renders Creasy’s suicidal contemplations, finger-burning massacres and general moodiness unintentionally hilarious.
Worst of all though, any trace of respect for poor Pita disappears in a plume of bazooka smoke; previously smart enough to run the United States, it becomes apparent that in her diary she doodles like a toddler. Not a single member of the cast, including the girl’s own mother, appear to give a quarter of a fuck when it appears that they will never see her again. In fact, the excitement of it all brings out the best in Christopher Walken and rekindles the sex lives of two others. At least half an hour too long, this schizophrenic landfill of confused dross is best represented by its now infamous epitaph: “Dedicated to the people of Mexico City: a very special place”.

Summary in Haiku form:
Guns, nuns, explosions
torture, Jesus, Jack Daniels
and a little girl

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